The other day I wrote about the importance of dealing with rejection as a writer. Every writer I know or have ever read about (and that’s lots) has faced it.
Rejection is simply a realistic component of a writer’s professional life.
However, there’s a flip side to this as well. As a very reputable writer puts it…
You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.
~ Ray Brabury
Bradbury is so spot on about this aspect of being an author. While the rejection is brutal, acceptance can be insidious.
It’s not always insidious but it certainly can be.
All authors want approval. And experience tells me that the ones who most loudly say that they don’t want it are the ones who, deep down, want it the most.
It’s basic human nature. We work hard and pour out our hearts and would love to be positively acknowledged for our brilliance and genius and awe-inspiring literary ways.
But deep down we all also know, that it could be better. It can always be better. If I could have a conversation with Shakespeare, I’d love to chat with him about his own take on the work he produced for I have a feeling, he wouldn’t gush as much as the rest of us do about what he was able to accomplish but rather see what most writers see when they reflect back on their works… that “oh, if only I would have done this and added that and cut this, then the piece would have REALLY shined!”
We all think like that. As the poet Paul Valery once famously quipped, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”
I don’t know if abandoned is the right word — a project has to end at some point — but he makes a good point.
We can always re-write and always try to make it better. Alas, it’s never perfect.
That’s why rejecting acceptance is so dangerous. It breeds complacency and a false sense of accomplishment.
On the feedback front, rejection hurts but if it comes with thoughtful reasons, I can learn, improve and grow. (Writing groups struggle with this because sometimes egos get involved and they offer criticism just to hear their own voice in the room.)
Acceptance is good because, well, it’s acceptance. And I want that. But when my mom tells me how great she finds my latest book, I have to ask myself, “Is she really helping me right now?”
Carol Jago said the other day that: write and find a way to receive feedback from a critical friend.
My response to this was…
A friend is key because you need someone who doesn’t have an agenda to prove how smart they are by tearing down your efforts. Some readers are critical just to be critical. Friends do not do that. We all have weaknesses and the writing gets better when we get to see them (because writing is re-writing).
On the other hand, a friend who is not critical is not doing you any favors. Someone who just says “I love it!” no matter what you put in front of them isn’t really helping you either. They are making you feel good… but how is that going to improve the re-writing?
Because writing is re-writing.
Have faith in your own work to move past the “me no likes” that’ll you’ll inevitably get but also have faith in yourself not to blindly trust the “me really loves” you also get as well.
It’s a fine balance which, btw, I still do not always have the most firm grip upon.
We’re all works in progress, right?